Since he entered the league, Daniel Jones has gotten comparisons to the man he succeeded: Eli Manning. Whether it was the same mannerisms or style of play, the two have been intertwined from day one.
Those comparisons might be true, but at the end of the day, Jones definitely isn’t the quarterback that Manning was at the beginning of his career. And it's getting old listening to it.
The turnover issue is a warranted comparison when you look at Manning’s 20 turnovers over his first 20 games (19 interceptions, one fumble lost). He may have even gotten lucky with eight other fumbles not recovered by the opposition.
But Manning was showing considerable progress in his second season, enough so to truly deem the No. 1 overall pick as the Giants’ franchise quarterback. The Giants would go 11-5 that season and make the playoffs behind some great games from Manning. He had a big, four-touchdown victory over the St. Louis Rams in Week 4 of the 2005 season, and later a three-touchdown game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11 for a big division win.
Yes, there were the duds – a four-interception game that ended in a 24-21 loss to the Minnesota Vikings among them – but overall, the Giants liked the progress of Manning. How could you not when a sophomore quarterback leads a team to a division title?
Jones, on the other hand, isn’t proving that he is the Giants’ franchise quarterback as much as GM Dave Gettleman and everyone else involved wants him to be. After the latest loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jones’ two costly interceptions brings his grand total in 20 career games to 36 (21 interceptions, 15 fumbles lost). Jones has fumbled the ball 23 times as well.
As SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano pointed out Monday night, that is the most turnovers in the first 20 games of a quarterback’s career since Ryan Leaf, one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history, had 41. Certainly not the company the Giants or Jones want to be in.
In this season alone, Jones has seven interceptions and four fumbles lost to just five touchdowns. There was a four-game stretch where he didn't throw for a score. That's not progress.
But it's where No. 8 finds himself right now, which is why it’s crazy to compare him to No. 10. There is also the fourth quarter factor that Jones just doesn’t seem to have at the moment.
Manning was known for his comebacks late in the game – it’s what set him apart from many quarterbacks in the league and why he was feared even if he seemed off through the first three quarters. There were countless times, even in the playoffs, where Manning put everything into focus and did what he needed to do to win games. It’s the reason why he’s a two-time Super Bowl champion.
Jones, though, is making his worst mistakes in those crunch-time moments. Take Monday night’s game, for example. The Giants could’ve upset Tom Brady and the Buccaneers had Jones not thrown a terrible interception as the team was driving to further their lead late in the game. It led to Brady putting together a great drive and ending it with a touchdown.
And even when Jones placed a dime to Golden Tate to give the Giants a chance at tying the game with a two-point conversion, he hesitated with a wide open Dion Lewis in the end zone and the throw was too late, allowing the defender to close the gap in time.
We wouldn’t know for sure, but Manning showed time and time again that he can make those plays even at the earlier parts of his career. Jones has a couple comebacks – his last win of his rookie season against Washington and his first career start against the Bucs – but other than those, it’s ended badly for Big Blue.
They may look the same if you glance quickly and even talk the same in post-game press conferences at times. But the play on the field between Manning and Jones at this point in their careers can’t be compared, as Jones is digressing with each game and each turnover while Manning was working his way up to franchise quarterback status.
Jones has not hit that point yet.